Blacklisting: Pitchford Inquiry

July 9, 2015

MPs have called for the Pitchford inquiry into the failures of undercover policing to cover spying on trade unions. Teresa May is set to announce the full Terms of Reference for the Pitchford Inquiry next week. The full text of Early Day Motion #263 submitted by John McDonnell MP is below:


“That this House remains deeply concerned about the extent and conduct of undercover police surveillance and the use of covert human intelligence sources; deeply regrets the distress caused to women by undercover officers forming intimate relationships and even fathering children with them; is concerned that police surveillance extended to covert monitoring of anti-racist and family justice campaigns, together with other civil society and political groups; is shocked by the revelations of Peter Francis, former member of the Metropolitan Police Force’s Special Demonstration Squad, in relation to the unit’s covert state surveillance of trade unions and their members, including Unison, the Fire Brigades Union, the Communication Workers Union, the National Union of Teachers and the construction workers union UCATT; commends the ongoing campaign of the National Union of Journalists over the surveillance of union members; welcomes the inquiry to be conducted by Lord Justice Pitchford into covert police surveillance; and calls on the terms of reference of the inquiry to include an investigation into the practice of covert surveillance of lawful trade union activities”.


Link to EDM 263


John McDonnell MP has been at the forefront of exposing the role of undercover police spying on and colluding with the blacklisting of trade unions. He commented:

““Thousands of innocent trade unionists and their families have suffered at the hands of blacklisting companies. They deserve a thorough and open inquiry to bring out the truth of how they were victimised and harmed by blacklisting.”


The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) has led the campaign to expose the role of the police spying colluding with blacklisting union members and has made a formal submission to the Home Office with suggested Terms of Reference for the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing, calling for the judge led inquiry to investigate police surveillance of trade union members. The Pitchford Inquiry was set up by Teresa May before the General Election following the revelations that undercover police units spied on the Stephen Lawrence family and had long term sexual relationships with women activists they were spying on. BSG are being legally represented by the prominent human rights solicitor Imran Khan, who has supported the blacklisted construction workers since presenting an IPCC complaint about the police collusion in blacklisting back in 2012. Imran Khan is also representing Doreen Lawrence in the Pitchford Inquiry.


Dave Smith, BSG secretary and co-author of the book ‘Blacklisted’ that exposes the blacklisting conspiracy commented:

“There are secret political police units in the UK that spy on anyone they consider to be a ‘domestic extremist’. In reality, that means trade unions, environmental activists, anti-racist campaigns and even the families of murder victims who dare to criticise the police, all of which are perfectly legal within a democratic society. The Pitchford inquiry must investigate why the police have been spying on trade unions and why they have been exchanging information with multinational companies. Any pressure put on by politicians and trade unions is extremely welcome. BSG applaud the EDM and call on all MPs concerned about human rights to sign it”.


Imran Khan commented:

“It is extremely sad to note that it often takes many years, grave injustices and tenacious individuals to uncover discreditable conduct in society. Those involved in the BSG have been bearing the brunt of severe injustices for a long time. Their hardship in doing so has not diminished their tenacity in seeking to throw light on this most murky of worlds. The Public Inquiry to be chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford will give the BSG the opportunity to not only uncover what happened to them but also ensure that the general public finally hears what went on and that the conduct complained of never happens again.”


Proposed Terms of Reference for the Public Inquiry into Undercover policing from the Blacklist Support Group:


“To inquire into and make recommendations as to the role, conduct and governance of the police service and her majesty’s Government in the establishment and deployment of undercover and covert operations, with specific regard to the Special Demonstration Squad, National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit and any other similar units in the police and in particular, to consider: 

  • The surveillance of trade union activists and trade union supported campaigns;
  • The provision of information by the police, whether directly or indirectly, of information contained on databases they have access to, to businesses about prospective employees;
  • The collusion, specifically with the Economic League and the Consulting Association and any other similar organisations, in the blacklisting of trade union members;
  • The outsourcing of state surveillance operations to private contractors;
  • The level and degree of political oversight into the above operations;
  • The extent to which the police were assisted in the above operations by the security services;
  • The circumstances of, and the reasons for, the loss, destruction and /or unavailability of documentation with regard to the matters above.

The Inquiry will also consider how to fulfill the objectives set out in these Terms of Reference by considering, in particular, the:

  • Extent and degree of protection from prosecution, under the Official Secrets Act or any other relevant legislation, of any witnesses giving information / evidence including whistleblowers;
  • Extent and degree to which the police’s stated position of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ affects a transparent and thorough investigation into the matters set out above”. 


Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary RMT, who was blacklisted by the Consulting Association and targeted by undercover Special Demonstration Squad officer Mark Jenner commented:

“The police and big business has spied on me and other union activists for decades, for nothing more than standing up for rights of our fellow workers. The undercover cop Mark Jenner targeted me for a number of years in the late 1990s and even stayed at my mum’s house! The sooner this anti-democratic scandal at the heart of the British state is exposed the better”.




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